Recurse Center

Mini retreats

Mini retreats are currently paused, and we don't have a plan to offer more at this time. We'll update this page if we decide to offer them again.

Read about why we paused mini retreats.

You can attend RC for a one-week mini retreat. This is a great option if you can't take six or 12 weeks off due to work, financial, or family obligations. Mini retreats start every six weeks on the same days as full-length retreats. They have the same interview process and admissions criteria as longer retreats, though we apply the criteria a bit more strictly.

Mini retreats are a great opportunity to do focused work on a long-term project, or to dive into a new area of programming. You'll do this in a friendly, intellectual environment with a diverse group of people of all ages and experience levels who are all focused on becoming better programmers.

Your RC experience doesn’t end after your mini retreat. You’ll be a part of the RC community for life, where you’ll find people of all experience levels working to become better programmers. In the RC community, people are always talking about programming – at events, in person, and online. You'll also have access to our career services team, who can help you find a new job or get the most out of your current one.

Mini retreats are fully integrated with our full-length retreats, so you'll get to meet everyone who's at RC, not just the people in your retreat. Core hours for both mini and full-length retreats are 11:00am to 5:00pm ET, though Virtual RC is open 24/7.

Why do a mini retreat?

If you enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better, but don’t have the ability to attend RC for six or 12 weeks, mini retreats are designed for you. At RC, you’ll find people working on everything to do with computers: languages, games, servers, visualizations, artificial intelligence, operating systems, art, and more. You’ll build strong friendships, meet potential collaborators, and join a friendly, ambitious community of people working to become better programmers.

A week may be short, but you can still get a lot done. You can build a jigsaw puzzle generator, an app that emails you famous novels one chapter at a time, preserve an old game by cracking its copy protection, explore the interaction between the OCaml runtime and the Xen hypervisor, contribute a patch to Clang, research the history of database design and build a toy database, make substantial contributions to trio (a Python library for asynchronous programming), build wireless sensors to monitor yogurt and cheese production at your creamery, or even just pair with a different person each day.1

Once your mini retreat is over, you’ll be a lifelong member of the RC community. You can get code review on Zulip, program at RC during alumni hours, come to RC events in New York and around the world, and even apply to do another retreat at a later date – over 100 Recursers have come back for a second retreat, and a select few have done more than that.

Applying to a mini retreat

When you apply to a mini retreat, you'll go through the same admissions process as full-length retreat applicants: a written application, a conversational interview, and a pair programming interview. You'll also be evaluated on the same criteria: we look for friendly, sharp, intellectually curious, self-directed people who enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better.

When you apply to a mini retreat, consider what you can reasonably accomplish in a week. If you use your application to tell us your plan for RC that can actually fit into a week (e.g. a small project, a small part of a larger project you've been working on, etc.), it's easier for us to admit you.

If you apply to a mini retreat, we apply our admissions criteria more strictly than if you had applied for a full-length retreat. For full-length retreats, we take chances on people and admit them even if we’re not sure they meet all our criteria. This lets us get great people at RC who we might otherwise miss. For mini retreats, we don't take this risk. A one-week retreat is inherently riskier than a six- or 12-week one: there's very little time to get settled and productive. This means your interviewers can only admit you to a mini retreat if they get a strong signal on all of the admissions criteria. If you don't get in to a mini retreat, your interviewers might offer you admission to a full length retreat instead.

Don't let this keep you from applying. The worst thing that could happen is you don't get in. Seven percent of alumni didn't get in to RC on their first try. If you're not admitted, you must wait at least three months before applying again.

If a week where you can direct yourself and focus on becoming a better programmer with a bunch of like minded people sounds exciting, consider applying to RC.

  1. Don’t be intimidated by this list of projects. If you think a mini retreat would be valuable for you, you should apply.